"Jo is one of my most trusted voices in Christian leadership. . . . She leads auditoriums full of people, and she leads me one-on-one."—Jen Hatmaker
Have you ever questioned the roles you find yourself in, wondering if you were made for more but unsure of the rocky path before you? Have you had a clear vision for your life, but along the way, insecurity and fear weighted your dreams and silenced the voice within you?
You’re not alone. Many amazing women like you have experienced the same struggles. Whether you’re moving into leadership, discovering your calling, fighting for change, or doing all three, leadership coach and speaker Jo Saxton affirms that God designed women for influence and impact.
But are you living up to your full potential?
Ready to Rise tackles the real-life issues—from harassment and sexism to self-doubt and loneliness—that can discourage and derail women from leading in the areas God has called them to. With insights from her own journey and powerful biblical examples, Jo offers practical advice to empower and equip women to transform their communities.
If you’ve ever longed to uncover your true potential, own your voice, and boldly advance God’s goodness in the world, now is the time to start. Get ready to rise!
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Introduction (A Seventh-Grade Girl Finds Her Voice and Speaks Truth to Power)
The school auditorium rippled with excitement. It was award night for the seventh graders. On the stage, more than a hundred honors students waited, familiar faces unfamiliarly dressed. In turns, they mocked and admired one another’s outfits, chatting animatedly in an attempt to subdue their nerves and self-consciousness.
Across from the stage, the room was filled with their loved ones until it was standing room only. Proud parents, even prouder grandparents, and loved ones posed and positioned cameras and smartphones, while others greeted one another, celebrating their children’s achievements or confirming car-pool arrangements and sports schedules. Younger siblings were being distracted by snacks or toys or the occasional tablet. The older ones entertained themselves with their own electronic devices, or they caught up with peers who’d also been brought along.
Meanwhile, the teaching staff milled around the auditorium, patiently trying to conduct sound checks on microphones and speakers that seemed to delight in jolting the audience with sudden and intrusively loud feedback. But then the principal took hold of a mic and cleared his throat to indicate the event was about to begin, and a hush fell over the room.
There were murmurs of surprise when the young woman’s name was announced, because she hadn’t told any of her friends that she was one of the two students selected to give a speech. Clutching her note cards, she made her way up to the podium and adjusted the microphone, perhaps because she felt it was the right thing to do.
She looked up and saw the number of people in the room and the anticipation on their faces. Spotting her parents, she exchanged a flickering glance with them and then determinedly looked down at her notes. She began speaking.
First, she thanked the families, parents, and teachers for both their presence and their contribution to her class’s achievements. “This night belongs to you all,” she said.
Then she spoke about her school journey—how she’d been shaped by experiences both positive and painful. She described the influence of teachers and friends who’d believed in her and encouraged her, thanking them for her growth. When she began speaking about harder times, she shared how difficult it had been to fill in a school survey that asked her to identify her ethnicity but didn’t permit her to check more than one box. There just wasn’t an option that reflected her biracial identity.
“I wondered why there wasn’t a box for me,” she said.
In fact, she’d called her mom in tears that day. “It’s like I don’t exist,” she’d said, weeping.
Somehow, it was in this touch of vulnerability that her confidence seemed to grow. It was obvious the crowd was really warming to her, and she looked directly at the people in front of her. She indicated that she’d overcome her challenges by drawing strength from how her family had previously dealt with racially motivated incidents. She said that as she dreamed of the future, she didn’t expect an easy or straightforward journey to achievement, but she wouldn’t be deterred either.
“It’s a broken world. I want to help fix it. I want to lead the people who want to help fix it.”
After commending her peers and thanking parents and teachers again, she ended her speech to rapturous applause. There were many tear-stained but smiling faces in the audience.
She skipped back to her seat and to the company of her friends, and took a deep breath and smiled at me.
I didn’t cry, but I was deeply moved. When she had used her seventh-grade mind and heart to speak truth to power, it wasn’t just her confidence that had struck me, nor was it the tender vulnerability as she shared her story. Instead, it was the calm assumption with which she declared that she, that we, could play a role in changing a broken world. She simply believed that she, with everyone around her, had a contribution to make.
I leaned back into my chair, returned my daughter’s smile, and thought, That’s my girl.
Chapter 1: Women Who’ve Made a Difference (And Why I Wasn’t Sure I Was One)
I reflected on my daughter’s speech—her moment—for months. The lens through which she saw the world and the resolve to do something about it reminded me of a time years before: Her younger sister (aged five at the time) called a family meeting to announce what she wanted to be when she grew up. She told us she would be running for president and her agenda would involve taking care of the environment and protecting marine life. (She has since moved on to other career choices.)
Naturally, I love the budding ideas and dreams and passions my kids—two daughters—have, particularly as they develop and mature and learn more about the world around them. But while their enthusiasm—and their innocence—moves me, it’s the liberated audacity of their assumption that they have something to offer, that they have a contribution to make in those places in the world that they believe are broken.
This is the message they constantly see around them—the mantras that say they can be who they want to be, that they can change the world, and that they can live meaningful and purposeful lives by helping and serving people. And, yes, there’s certainly a dose of idealism, but this message of empowerment is also conveyed in the books they read about women who’ve made a difference. They’re inspired by the way they see leaders—who remind them a little, or a lot, of themselves—grace the global stage. I’ll always remember the day when my eldest was a toddler and saw President Barack Obama on TV. She jumped up and down, shouting, “Mommy! His skin! He’s just like me!”
Seeing people who look like them and hearing people share stories similar to theirs has catalyzed my children’s understanding of their own potential and purpose. And this is true for other children, not just mine. There’s a generation growing up that seems to already know that to live a life that makes a meaningful impact is not only necessary but part of our design. And although it is marvelous to watch these young people grow with such purpose behind them, they’re not the first to know this—not the first generation, or, to bring it much closer to home, not the first in our family.
The journey each generation embarks upon as they discover their influence and potential has been widely varied, inevitably shaped by the times they were in. I’ve seen it over and over again, even in my own family. The generations of women who came before my daughters often discovered their purpose in ways they couldn’t prepare for. Sometimes, their skills, callings, and leadership gifts were not so much discovered but uncovered as they faced challenging circumstances in a broken world. Their potential for impact was revealed as they stepped into uncharted territory in whatever way they hoped to build something different—for themselves, their families, their communities, and beyond.
Table of Contents
Introduction: (A Seventh-Grade Girl Finds Her Voice and Speaks Truth to Power) 1
1 Women Who've Made a Difference: (And Why I Wasn't Sure I Was One) 5
2 The Cost of Disempowerment: (And How I've Looked for Myself in All the Right Places) 19
3 Talitha Koum!: (And What Jesus Really Says About Women) 33
4 The Surprising Answer to "What Would Jesus Do?": (And Why Pedicures Are Not Required) 45
5 Say Yes to Who You Are: (And Why We Don't Leave Good Gifts Unwrapped) 57
6 A Voice Without Apology: (And What "Too Much" Really Means) 79
7 Voice Lessons: (And When to Listen to Your Coaches) 95
8 How to Grow Your Grit: (It May Not Be Exactly How You Think) 109
9 Body Talk: (And How to Listen to What Your Body Is Saying) 125
10 The Search for Community: (And All the Things That Stop Women from Having It) 141
11 How to Build Your Village: (One Brick at a Time) 159
12 The Strategic Relationships Every Village Needs: (You Might Feel Awkward About Them at First) 171
13 Ready to Shape a New Skyline?: (On Your Mark …) 185
I Am Ready to Rise 199